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by Lamiat Sabin and Sam Tobin
JEREMY CORBYN’S suspension from the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) “went behind an agreement to reinstate” him to Labour “at all levels,” the High Court has heard.
At a remote hearing at the High Court, Judge Lisa Sullivan considered an application for “pre-action disclosure” by Mr Corbyn’s legal team over his suspension from the PLP last year.
The former leader’s lawyers want the party to release papers relating to his initial suspension as a party member, and negotiations with his successor Sir Keir Starmer’s office over his reinstatement.
Mr Corbyn had his membership suspended on October 30 after saying that the extent of anti-semitism in the party “was overstated for political reasons by our opponents.”
Following a clarification in which he said anti-semitism concerns were “neither exaggerated nor overstated” he was readmitted to the party by its ruling national executive committee, three weeks after his suspension.
But Sir Keir refused to readmit his predecessor to the PLP, leaving him to sit as an independent, despite the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – which compiled a controversial report on Labour’s handling of anti-semitism complaints – warning against political interference in such cases.
Mr Corbyn’s barrister Christopher Jacobs told Judge Sullivan: “We need to know the conduct of the Labour Party leader in accepting the agreement (that there would be) no requirement for further sanction and the matter would be closed.
“And we need to know the extent to which the decision to impose a second suspension ... was influenced by third-party interventions.”
He said the decision to prevent his client returning to the PLP seemed to be the result of “political interference” and said Mr Corbyn’s treatment by Labour was “grossly unfair.”
Mr Jacobs argued that “the party and the party leadership in particular” went behind “the legitimate and final decision of the NEC” to reinstate Mr Corbyn, and that his suspension from the PLP amounted to a “fundamental breach of contract” in relation to his client's membership of the party, with the party leadership.
Rachel Crasnow QC, for Labour, said Mr Corbyn’s call for disclosure was aimed at advancing “a political, not a legal position.”
Judge Sullivan said she would give her ruling on Mr Corbyn’s application at a later date.
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